Tuna & much more @160 feet
The first of December, how better to issue in the Christmas season than a trip to the Florida Middle Grounds with very good friends. Thirty sportsmen board the Florida Fisherman ll, Hubbard's Marina, for a 39 hour marathon trip to the fabulous Florida Middle Grounds. Most have been fishing together for years, we are members of Hubbard's 'regulars' club. For us fishing is not just a pastime, but a way of life. Let's go!
Three P.M. sharp, Captain Hubbard and Captain Anthony fire up those huge twin 1,150 HP Caterpillar diesels. We are out of here. Next stop the Florida Middle Grounds:
First things first, let's make absolutely sure our tackle is ready to go; it will be tested. Some troll for mackerel & kings on the way out:
We will be challenging the monsters of the Grounds for around twenty hours. Most hit the bunks pretty early. The more rested we are, the better our chances of success. After a Tammy meat ball & cheese sub, its time to say good-night. Gosh! those bunks are calling us.
11:45 A.M. Captain Mark Hubbard slows those monster diesels down. Let the battle begin. Captain Mark informs us that the depth is 160 feet, and the fish scope has come alive. We have found a huge school of banded rudderfish We do not see them too often:
Banded Rudderfish: Seriola zonata
Fish that are less than 11 inches long have a dark band from the eye to the first dorsal fin and six prominent bars on body
Larger fish are bluish, greenish, or brown
Soft dorsal base about twice the length of the anal fin
The tail-lobe is white tipped
They are there for the taking, as many as we want. The mangrove snapper bite is much slower than we expected. They sure are hard to catch in 160 feet of water. Most have breakfast on us, and leave without paying for their meal. Some do pay:
Captain Hubbard loves to show off our catch:
Red grouper makes a showing:
Other than rudderfish, the morning bite was, by our standards, slow. We are hungry. What's that we smell? Tammy has the grill going:
Our chef knows we are in battle, so she brings hot of the grill ham & cheese sandwiches to our fishing spots. What a treat!
Look at that beautiful American red:
The sun decides to do it's thing. We are still catching fish:
Here comes the AJ's. We just can't seem to get away from those darn ARS:
Mister Danny Slaybaugh (R) has never fished an over night boat in our gulf before; he has in California. How does the Gulf of Mexico compare with he Pacific Ocean? His reply simply, I am give out! That's what we like to hear.
We are starving. Tammy, what's for breakfast? How about a cheese, sausage, onion, omelette? Sounds great!
The great AJ battle continues. Some battles are won; many are lost.
Many of the AJ's are running smaller than usual. Never-the-less, they are giving us a real battle:
Well, it's lunch time. Guess we on the Florida Fisherman are kina into food, really good food:
Leo, a Marine, a Florida Fisherman 'regular', has been fighting a real battle. Let's relax for awhile and see what Woods'nWater has to say:
Back to the action:
Will, our first mate, has a very special lure he wants us to try. Captain Hubbard announces that our next stop is about one half an hour away. Perfect timing:
Scott says he would like to try. Will says the new lure is running around ten feet deep. He puts the rod in the rod holder. Suddenly the rod is bent over double. Get it Scott! What a battle, what a fight! This monster is ever so fast and strong. Perhaps a huge king. Scot gains an inch and looses two. This could take some serious time and energy. Finally, we see color. It's a prize black fin tuna. Will, the gaff, quick Will. What a fish, what a trophy! Let's try that again. Within five minutes, Randy is hooked up. Could it be? Yes! Another tuna. What a fighter. Scott & Randy will never forget, 'Tuna & much more @ 160 feet).
Dinner time, Tammy what's for dinner? We are starved. How about a good old fashion Southern delight, BBQ chicken, baked beans, cold slaw, and Texas toast. Tammy you are simply amazing.
The late evening mango after dinner bite continues to be slow, however, we do catch some. Anthony wants something different. This brave young man, this man of the sea who is to be congratulated for earning his Captains license, finds the largest pin fish he can possibly find; it's now or never. Oh, Oh! What have I got myself into. I have hooked a monster. This fish, this beast, is extremely fast and ever so strong. it's a good thing Anthony is so young and strong; he is really being tested. The great battle is in doubt. Finally, color! It's a cuda, and I mean a big one. Quick Joe, the gaff. Our professional mate sinks the gaff deep into the great fish. Watch those teeth, this dude is dangerous:
Tammy is so proud of her strawberry grouper, and why not? That is rally big for a strawberry:
And talk about big, look at the size of that porgy:
We had no fast bites, with the exception of rudderfish. However, we still ended our trip with 150 mangrove snapper, 25 red grouper, a huge fish box full of AJ's, and two beautiful black fin tunas. One box is filled with amber jacks. The second box is not full, but still represent a respectable catch:
Well, just before leaving the Grounds, we were completely over powered not once but twice. Guess that can be expected when fishing the Florida Middle Grounds for 'Tuna & much more @ 160 feet.' The Florida Fisherman, in conjunction with the FWC, is studying goliath grouper. There is a very good chance we were over-powered by huge goliath. We will get them next time. The Florida has two more chances this year, 12/ 14, & 12/28, to help the FWC collect much needed on the water data. And, speaking of the FWC, we had no FWC biologist on board this weekend. However, they were waiting for us at the dock. These dedicated scientist counted & studied every fish we caught:
Time for the jack pot weigh in:
And the big winners are:
SNAPPER: (L) Mister Ron Bigford
AJ: (M) Mister Doug Grieble
Grouper: (R) Mister Denis Baker
Bob Harbison A proud Florida native & active member of
The Florida Outdoor Writers Association
Check out the short action packed video of our trip:
Click on the link: